I love guns. Always had a fondness for the things as a kid. Loved cowboy movies that glamorised them all. Overall, I was a destructive child.
Till date, the only actual guns I fired were from Dad’s air rifle. Didn’t do too much damage. I remember when we cousins used to spend the holidays in the estate, we used to line up Grandma’s Pond’s Cold Cream packs against the coffee drying yard walls and fire away. Papayas up on the tree used to be another favourite target with the air gun. In the end, we always ended up with curses from those at home. Fortunately none of us got shot in the foot.
I always wanted to fire the shotguns that lay around the house, just out of reach of our eager hands. We were frightened into accepting the fact that we could dislocate a shoulder or an empty case may fly out into our eyes while firing. The slight fear remained.
Dad finally allowed me to fire his shotgun on the third afternoon of my stay. The old British era shotgun is a classic and real heavy duty as it can rip through a wild boar. With Monkeys roaming around during coffee season near the bungalow and picking on the ripened coffee, we had to ply some fear into this menace.
Fed up with seeing monkeys around the place, Dad finally allowed me to load and carry the shotgun. We entered the thickly forested part of the estate where the monkeys are known to make their home. However the monkeys have learnt to identify armed individuals as they keep dodging bullets from estate to estate.
Standing still, immediately instils fear in the monkey rather than the opposite. This pause is taken as a fact that the person is taking aim to shoot and they never tolerate a person standing still. As a shooter, if you need to stand still, then the approach should be as silent. I made two basic mistakes that a hunter should not. I moved around quite a bit and went on and on about getting the right shot and whether I was holding the gun right as I took tips from dad.
Dad must have known, nothing would come off it, but as I raised my gun against my left shoulder and had the monkey in my sights, the adrenaline kicked in. The monkeys kept moving around, but I knew I had to squeeze in a shot. Impatience too got the better of me. I did wait for a good five minutes before I thought I had a clear shot. I pressed the trigger.
The kick from the gun was not as bad as I expected. The shot was loud and almost like a splattering of gun powder that comes out of a muzzle loader. The leaves in the branches quivered and I saw a monkey falling down.
No, I did not get the monkey. It was just a temporary loss of balance that the monkey had on hearing the shot. Dad saw my crestfallen face and said, don’t worry, it was a baptism by fire. He was being polite.
There is a thrill when the shot rings out and the butt kicks in and I now understand why the gun nuts in US from the NRA love shooting. I love it too and I wish there was something like the NRA promoting the same here. Dad told me to go to the civilian defence range and fire away once I am in Bangalore. Got to get my arse over there definitely, wonder if they still take in civilians despite the name.
As I type this post, I am getting ready for my next round of hunting. I need to get a dead monkey on my back.
(The photographs featured in this post are the sole property of the author of this blog)